The importance of the Group lies not only in the co-ordination of activities but also in its influence. It is one of the few cross-sector groups in existence in the museum community to represent the concerns of both large and small museums in the UK, reflecting the diversity of collections held within such institutions.

The Group plays an essential role in the well-being of museums and galleries in an increasingly competitive and complex environment.

The Group commissioned A Guide to Copyright for Museums, published by Routledge in 2000. The publication is a key text for museum professionals and the first of its kind in the UK. It provides practical assistance and contains a number of model agreements. In 2003, the Group commissioned Graham Cornish to produce Guidelines on the Recent Changes to Copyright Law, examining the effect of the 2003 European copyright legislation on the museums, galleries, libraries and archives community.

The Group has also produced a fact sheet on Photocopying in Museums and Galleries.

The Group’s Executive disseminates information on best practice through a variety of media, such as Museums Journal, the Art Newspaper, Art Law Journal, New Heritage Magazine, the British Association of Picture Libraries and Agencies (BAPLA), the Area Museums Council and the International Bar Association. In 1997, the Group commissioned a survey of 100 museums on the awareness of copyright issues and associated rights amongst museums in the UK.

The Group contributed to the publication of the Museums and Galleries Pricing Guidelines for Reproduction Fees published by the Museum Trading and Publishing Group, 1998. Representatives from the Executive have spoken at numerous seminars on copyright issues including seminars run by:

  • Museums Association
  • Museums Heritage Show
  • Institute of Art and Law
  • Association of Art Historians
  • International Bar Association
  • Cambridgeshire Museums Group
  • British Computer Society
  • Archive Training Courses
  • Ephemera Society
  • Society of Archivists
  • Intellectual Assets Management
  • Scottish Museums Federation
  • Area Museums Councils

In July 2000, in response to the US court case Bridgeman Art Library v Corel Corporation over copyright in photographs of public-domain works of art, the Group commissioned a report and Leading Counsel’s opinion on the legal implications in the UK.

In 2003, members of the Group in collaboration with the Museums Association ran two heavily over-subscribed seminars looking in depth at the copyright legislation and impact of the 2003 European Copyright Directive. FAQs based on one of the seminars are available on these pages.

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